Estate planning isn’t all about assets, tax laws, and legal documents. In fact, at the heart of estate planning is your wish to care for the people and causes that you love, for as long after you are gone as possible. With this in mind, it is easy to see that not all aspects of your estate plan need the assistance of your lawyer, your accountant, or your financial advisor.
One item that we recommend our clients consider is a personal legacy letter: an opportunity to say all of the things that you would say to your friends and family if you knew you only had one last chance. These letters can vary widely in scope, length, and subject matter, but in many cases they can be the most precious item a loved one can leave behind.
What can you write in your personal legacy letter?
- Share how you feel about your loved ones. Write personal notes to your family and close friends, even if it is simply to say that you love them, that you are proud of them, or that you are there for them. These words may seem strange to write, but they are extremely meaningful to your loved ones after you are gone.
- Tell your story. What do you want future generations (or just your grown children) to know about you, your life, and your accomplishments? What stories do you want to tell? What do you want people to know about your internal life, your decisions, and your dreams? Take the time to write down all of the things that only you know about your life.
- Share what you’ve learned. Do you have life lessons that you wish to pass on? Or wisdom that you think could help others? This is your opportunity to help your children and others benefit from your experiences.
- Distribute meaningful family items. This may be the best place to outline who gets your grandfather’s pocket watch as well as to write about the history of that watch. Remember to note where these items are located along with any special care instructions.
- Leave instructions regarding other personal items. What would you like your family to do with your personal letters, creative writing, art, or other similar items? Where are these items located? Some people may want their letters to be read and shared, while others might wish for these items to be stored to destroyed.
Remember: your personal legacy letter does not have to be a physical letter at all: some people make audio or video recordings. You may even consider interviewing some of your older relatives to create a lasting document that will be valuable for many generations to come.
Do you need assistance with California estate planning? For more information, or to speak with a San Jose estate planning attorney, call The Law Office of Janet Brewer today: (650) 325-8276.